How does a community arts organisation with limited resources reflect reflect the exciting and dynamic diversity of their programme online?
sampad is a dynamic development agency for South Asian Arts based in Birmingham. It plays a significant role regionally, nationally and beyond, in promoting the appreciation and practice of the diverse artforms originating from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
As a long-term Made Media client, sampad were used to the convenience of being able to update the content of their own website. Since sampad is in the business of promoting events and projects, their website can't stand still. Although sampad were successfully getting up-to-the-minute information about events and news online, they felt that the website wasn't successfully portraying the flavour of the projects. Imagery was abundant, with many events having press photos and even video footage. sampad felt that they needed to get this material online with the same ease and regularity that they could update text.
- Made Media upgraded the sampad website onto the latest version of our Content Management System, Backstage.
- Diary, Event and News pages were redesigned to make use of large-colour images and thumbnails.
- The Content Management System was updated to allow the attachment of multiple images to a story. Image processing code was added to automatically crop and resize images to fit the layouts. This means that sampad could upload any image within reason, and the system would automatically fit it to the page layout.
- A Media Gallery was added, featuring video and audio in Streaming Macromedia Flash format.
- The sampad website is a riot of colour and action, more accurately reflecting the organisation.
- The entire content of the website is under --the control-- of the organisation, meaning it's always up-to-date.
- The image management features have made it into the standard Backstage package, meaning that images are as easy to add to your website as text.
How do you get a brand new website, full of articles, interviews, multimedia content and games launched in just 60 days?
The online incarnation of Channel 4's *IDEAS*FACTORY initiative is all about career advice for young people looking to break into the creative industries. It is packed with advice, e-learning modules, video interviews and articles. In 2002 *IDEAS*FACTORY started to develop websites for regional hubs which would feature the same type of content, but with a regional focus. The West Midlands was the first regional website marked for development, so as well as being the first online it would also set a marker for the other sites across the UK.
Made Media was delighted to win the contract to develop the West Midlands website, particularly as the company was just one month old at the time. The brief included designing the website, building the pages using cutting edge XHTML and CSS technologies and developing all of the content from scratch, to include articles, interviews, video, flash modules and an events diary.
- A West Midlands sub-brand was developed, and a house style designed around it using local photography.
- Made employed freelance writer Andy Conway to write articles and interview local creatives. Man in the know "David Hayden":http://www.dabra.com was commissioned to research local happenings and put together an events diary.
- Video interviews were edited in-house and converted to streaming media. The Flash e-learning modules were researched and developed in house.
- The Website, over 200 pages worth, was designed and rolled out using advanced XHTML and CSS.
- The website was launched on-time, on budget and full of interesting, original features.
- The XHTML and CSS templates developed for the West Midlands site became used as the foundation for all other regional hubs
- The website was held up within an internal Channel 4 website developer's meeting as a paragon of accessibility.
- Made Media switched from considering XHTML/CSS layouts an interesting but difficult technique, to using them as the foundation of all future websites.
How do you run a Â£5m venture capital fund with no office?
The Advantage Creative Fund is a unique proposition in Europe. The fund was set up with public money to boost the creative industries in the West Midlands, but operates like any commercial venture capital fund, taking equity stakes in commercial concerns in return for capital. ACF set up from day one as a virtual organisation. As many of the consultants work for the organisation on a self-employed or part-time basis a central office was not required. This meant that ACF would require a system for exchanging files, assessing business plans, monitoring financials and reporting to funders. The Internet was clearly mechanism for this communication, but the form of the solution was less obvious.
Made Media won the tender to deliver a website, along with some form of extranet to allow file exchange and monitoring. In the event, Made delivered a tightly-defined Customer Relationship Management system, run entirely over the web. The system enables and tracks the entire process, from an initial tentative enquiry from a new enterprise, through upload and assessment of the business plan, through to monitoring the performance of investees and the production of collated output reports for the European Regional Development Fund.
The system can even match incoming enquiries against postcode boundaries, keeping a running total of investments against the Regional Development Agency's target areas for regeneration.
How do you manage and track funded commercial training provision in the West Midlands?
The Learning and Skills Council (LSC) is responsible for funding and planning education and training for over 16-year-olds in England. In Birmingham and The Black Country this involves providing a link between commercial employers and tens of thousands of courses, supplied by both traditional education establishments and commercial training providers.
A regional initiative to help fund training involved many training providers. Between the training provider and the employer hoping to gain from new skills are a number of brokers, who assess the training needs of the employer and recommend courses.
The process of facilitating, tracking and monitoring the process, from an initial phone enquiry, through course search, referral to broker, booking of employees onto courses and reporting and monitoring was immense. A paper-based system was beginning to buckle under the weight of the task, and an internal database system designed to monitor overall performance was struggling to provide information quickly enough. The LSC realised that they needed an integrated system.
Made Media delivered a phased development, starting with an online database of courses. This enabled LSC staff to search over various criteria, and allowed providers to upload and amend the details of their courses.
LSC staff were then able to quickly identify courses suitable for any company that called with an enquiry about training. Following on from this, a referral system was created, enabling the details of the company to be forwarded onto brokers, and then to the training providers.
Finally tracking, reporting and monitoring features were added to enable an overview of performance in the system, but also a detailed view of the history of any one referral.
How do several disparate agencies collaborate to deliver a single joint transport plan online?
Local Transport Plans are the public documents that set out the highway authority's policies, strategies, objectives and targets for improving transport in their communities. They define a five-year strategy, and annual progress reports are filed in each subsequent year. The West Midlands Local Transport Plan is unusual in that it is developed by seven district authorities, along with Centro, the Passenger Transport Authority to the Department for Transport (DfT).
The division of Centro responsible for getting the transport plan published were having issues getting the information published online in a timely manner. This is not surprising as the plan stretches to thousands of Adobe Acrobat (PDF) files. A file-store for discussion documents, meeting minutes and so on was also required, but this was problematic as there are eight organisations with eight different IT systems involved. Apart from this, there was a need to publish not-quite-public information between groups of interested parties. The West Midlands LTP website did not allow for this kind of ad-hoc publishing or document/access control.
Made Media developed a new website, using our BackStage Content Management System. The website was built with several layers of accessibility and user groups, meaning that files could be published for access by small internal teams, by the general public or by groups somewhere in-between.
The Backstage Content Management System allows for instant publishing of PDF files to the website, and also allows for keyword indexing with an advanced search system.
Files can be published by disparately located groups and the entire permission system dictating who can publish and who can read, is all under Centro's day-to-day control. Getting new information online is now a trivial process and has become a simple, integral part of the job, rather than a slow, complex external effort.